Three Lochs Way
Argyll & Byte, Scotland
Distance: 34 miles (54.7 km)
Time: 3-4 days
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Surface: Long-distance Footpath
Three Lochs Way connects the freshwater Loch Lomond on Scotland’s High Boundary Fault, where the lowlands of central Scotland begin their transition into its famous Highlands, to the saltwater lochs of Gare Loch and Loch Long. The route opens into the Firth of Clyde, and along its way crosses glaciated glens and fjords and provides not only a link to the region’s many towns and villages, but also a host of unexpected perspectives on well-known landmarks.
It begins in the town of Balloch, an enchanting village on Loch Lomond’s southern shoreline and in no time you’re looking at a view of this most famous of lochs from Stoneymollan Road, an old “coffin road” along which locals once carried their dead to be buried in the grounds of churches in nearby Cardross. Another coffin road_and for centuries before that it was a packhorse track-is the Highlandman’s Road, used by the residents of Glen Fruin to get to their parish church at Rhu, near Helensburgh. The two ancient routes are now official Heritage Paths. The trail also passes through the Glen Loin Woodlands, a Site of Special Scientific interest and notable for its red squirrels and views over the Arrochar Alps, and by an assemblage of military buildings from World War II near Glen Fruin that conducted the research into the famous “Bouncing Bomb” of inventor Barnes Wallis.
This mostly low-level trail may lack the sort of adrenalin-filled challenge that comes with steep ascents, and it might not have the wealth of panoramic views common to other Highland traits, but its gently ambling nature will get it onto the shortlist of the more genteel rambler, who appreciates the beauty inherent in all of nature’s moods.